17 September 2012
so many songs about rainbows
"i carry some recessive gene for optimism, because despite all my best efforts i still can't scrape together even a couple days of hopelessness. future scientists will call it the pollyanna syndrome, and if forced to guess, i'd say that mine has been a way long case history of chasing rainbows.”
on the way home from the studio last night the rainbow connection by the muppets came on my ipod. it's such a beautiful song, but as i sat there staring out of the window, kermit got me wondering wether there really are so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side. i'm not sure if there are as many as he thinks there are, but i could definitely think of a few, so i started to imagine a mixtape of all my favourites.
i guess the tape would begin with rainbow connection by kermit the frog. although karen carpenter does sing a very beautiful version too. tough choice, but i'll go with kermit this time round. the next song that i could think of was the rainbow in daddy's eyes by sammi smith, who along with karen carpenter and katrina mitchell, has my favourite voice. i think any of those three singers could sing anything and it would sound so full of soul and sadness. this is a song about one of those lovers and dreamers that kermit was singing about. a little girl has to move out of her home with her family to follow her father's dreams and "a rainbow" that only he can ever see. even when he dies in the second verse he still thinks he can make it, but he's run out of time by then and he ended up dreaming his whole life away. i think i've got those rainbows in my eyes a lot of the time too.
after that, i started thinking about all the different versions of over the rainbow and tried to pick a favourite, just because you can't really have a list of songs about rainbows without it. aretha franklin has sung a nice version, and i love the willie nelson version too, and then there's the original version that judy garland sings in wizard of oz. but i think the version i like best is probably the tom t hall one. he sings it straight, without making it melodramatic, like he does everything. as if no one else in the world was listening and he was just sitting on the back seat of a greyhound bus singing to himself. then i remembered listening to wayne coyne on six music talking about a version of judy garland singing over the rainbow reprise in an outtake from the wizard of oz, and she's crying as she sings the song. the flaming lips used to play it at the end of their shows in the early days before they had any epic songs of their own to close their sets with. apparently it was left out of the final cut of the film because it would have been too upsetting for children watching it. it's almost too upsetting to listen to it still. so i'll put them both on the list. one at the beginning, one at the end. i'll put rainbow connection second.
then there are all the indie pop songs about rainbows. paint a rainbow by my bloody valentine, looking for a rainbow by talulah gosh, rainbow rider by the pooh sticks and the rainbow by trembling blue stars. they all need to go on the list. and a list of songs about rainbows would need to have no rainbows for me by saint etienne on it too. just because i try and squeeze them on to most mixtapes and playlists i make.
i've always liked today's teardrops are tomorrow's rainbows by roy orbison, and i know pete loves roy orbison so i should probably include that, just in case he ever wants to listen to my rainbow mixtape. and neon rainbow by the box tops, that's an amazing song too, and he'll like that.
another one of my favourite songs about rainbows is look to the rainbow by astrud gilberto. i guess i've always thought it was important to have "a song for your heart" as the words suggest, to sing "whenever the world falls apart". this song reminds me of the pastels and tenniscoats collaboration from a couple of years ago, and they've got their own beautiful song about rainbows, mou mou rainbow. that can go on.
i should put a version of here comes that rainbow again by kris kristofferson on there too. it's a weird sweet little song where nothing really happens, two kids go into a cafe and buy two sweets for a penny, then two truck drivers pay too much for their coffee, but it still seems to say so much about being a human being all the same. and although i've said how much i love sammi smith, i think i'd have to put the johnny cash version on instead of her version.
i always like to end a mixtape with a slightly downbeat and reflective moment, so before judy garland sings through her tears in the over the rainbow reprise, i'll put end of the rainbow by richard and linda thompson on. not a very optimistic song, but i guess you need as much rain as you do sunshine to make a rainbow after all.
after all that thinking about rainbows, when i got home i watched damsels in distress, and there was this scene where the character thor, who is only just learning the names for colours, sees a rainbow and runs across the campus to a fraternity house balcony so he can see it properly and then he lists off all the colours to heather as he squeezes her in his arms. it's a really sweet scene, and i kind of wish his reaction was everyone's reaction when they saw a rainbow. it should be.
so, in the end, yesterday turned out to be full of rainbows. without there being a single one.